Constantia businessman Rob Packham on Wednesday struggled to accept two versions presented to him of how his school administrator wife Gill was murdered in Cape Town on February 22, 2018.
The first version that prosecutor Susan Galloway put to him while on the stand involved an unidentified attacker who killed Gill, ostensibly in a hijacking. He at first said it was a possibility but then did not want to speculate as he simply didn’t know.
The second version was that he found himself in a corner because of his affair and killed his wife – making up cover stories along the way, getting rid of evidence, and setting it up to look like a hijacking. Packham categorically denied this.
Here is a breakdown of both versions that were presented:
1) Hijacking/attack by unknown and unapprehended suspect
A person (State referred to he) attacks or hijacks Gill around 07:00 at their Riesling Road home, as she is leaving for work. He puts her body in the boot of her green BMW and her blood possibly transfers to points in the garage. Alternatively, the blood is from injuries during Gill’s gardening and recycling activities. He then proceeds to drive around, not scared of being pulled over or stopped because the vehicle’s number plates are missing.
He stays in the area where he committed his crime for at least 30 minutes or leaves and comes back because the BMW is seen again at 14:00. Both he and Packham are in the same vicinity at this time but the accused says it is not him.
The attacker therefore looks enough like Packham for witnesses to have made a mistaken identification of the accused.
The BMW, the prize for which he supposedly committed the attack, is eventually set alight at Diep River train station that evening.
It appeared this attacker was in the same area about seven hours later when spotted driving away from the scene.
According to a witness, the attacker was driving a vehicle which was the same model, make and colour as Packham’s and had three matching numbers in the licence plate.
Packham’s response? “My lady, I guess it is one possibility… I am afraid I don’t know. I did not put that scenario. I honestly don’t know. I can’t speculate. I don’t want to.” He says the vehicle theory is “fantasy” and the similarities are a coincidence.
2) Murdered by her husband
Packham found himself “in a tight spot due to your long running affair with Witness x and your wife’s apparent still upsetness [sic] about your continuous disclosures about your infidelity”.
Between the evening of February 21 and the morning of February 22, he hit his wife with an unknown weapon, probably first on her jaw which incapacitated her and then a fatal second blow to the head.
She was possibly even attacked when she was already in her car in the garage heading to work. Having handled the murder weapon, blood droplets in the garage could have come from Packham’s hands or the weapon. He moves his wife’s body.
Packham doesn’t go out of his way to report her missing and doesn’t want help looking for her as he knows all along where she and her car are. He drives around, either in her car or his car, looking for places to dispose of the weapon, his wife’s phone and handbag, and her vehicle licence plates.
He cries and sounds distressed during phone calls with his sister and daughters. He realises he needs to account for his whereabouts as his main phone was switched off in the morning so he phones a colleague to agree to lie for him about being at a work meeting.
But then media reports about Packham surface and he is angry because it appears to cast doubt on his actions. He tells people that he was looking for a new vehicle for his wife that morning and he didn’t want her to track him on his phone.
After being spotted in the BMW by a witness during the day, he leaves the vehicle at Diep River train station.
He has dinner with his sister in Tokai from around 19:00 to 21:17. Around 21:30, he sets the BMW alight at the location he probably left it earlier that day, thinking it will destroy all evidence and his wife “would simply become another statistic of a hijacking”.
When the investigating officer phones late on the day to meet with Packham, he says he is too tired but reschedules for the next morning, an appointment he misses. “In effect, Mr Packham, I am going to argue that you killed your wife and set the vehicle alight.”
Packham’s response? “I categorically denied what the prosecutor has just said”. He says this is nothing more than speculation and maintains he is innocent.
Closing arguments will be presented on April 24.